An early turnover set the momentum for the game as the No. 11 Northwest Missouri Bearcats ran up and down the Griffon defense in a disappointing 44-20 Missouri Western loss.
After the Griffons received the opening kickoff, there was still a buzz in the air as quarterback Drew Newhart completed the first pass of the game to wide-receiver Andrew Mead.Â Unfortunately, that was the ed of the excitement as a northwest defender quickly drilled Mead, jarring the football loose.Â Northwest recovered the football, and Missouri Western was not able to recover the quarter.
â€œThat fumble the very first play of the game definitely sparked some momentum from them. Itâ€™s definitely hard to take, but youâ€™ve got to live and learn,â€ Mead said.Â â€œBut at the same time, me, I canâ€™t be doing that as a leader on this team; I canâ€™t be putting the football on the ground.â€
The Bearcats would go on to score three consecutive, unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter alone. The Northwest offense was led by senior running back Xavier Omon, who rushed for a total of 120 yards, and adding another 56 yards receiving. Junior quarterback Joel Osborn was also impressive throwing for 287 yards, completing 19 of 26 attempts.Â
â€œEverybody was just gellinâ€™. Osborn did a great job. Heâ€™s worked so hard. He deserved this,â€ Omon said. â€œWeâ€™re a great team; when weâ€™re playing well, weâ€™re a great team.â€
Northwest struck first in the second quarter as well with a 13 yard touchdown pass from Osborn to tight-end Greg Applegate to complete their opening 28 unanswered points.Â
Finally, with only six minutes and thirty-three seconds left in the half, Missouri Western got on the scoreboard with an eight yard pass from Newhart to Mead.Â Newhart finished the game 15-27 with 152 passing, and Mead led in receiving with 125 yards.
However, it wasnâ€™t enough to overcome the dominating performance of the Northwest Bearcatsâ€™ physical offense.
â€œI thought we got out-physicalled a little bit, and at this stage, where weâ€™re stopping the run, weâ€™ve got to score points more often than what weâ€™re doing,â€ coach Jerry Partridge said.Â â€œWe just didnâ€™t handle the early flurry of punches and momentum.Â But I thought the second half we competed well,Â hung in there and battled and we put a respectable showing.â€
The Griffons began to mount a comeback in the third quarter by forcing Northwest into a quick three and out.Â The teams traded possessions for a while until Missouri Western pounded the ball into the end-zone with a run by freshman running back Thomas Hodges.Â Hodges finished with a team leading 56 yards rushing and one touchdown.Â
In the end, the Griffons just werenâ€™t able to respond to the blazingly fast Northwest start. The early turnovers are what put the Griffons in a deep hole early. The Bearcats add another tally in the win column of this historical rivalry with the Griffons, which Northwest now leads 16-11.
The Griffons go to Pittsburg State University, one of the hardest places to play in Division II football, next Saturday. Pittsburg State is always one of the best teams in the conference. This will be another tough game for the young Griffons.